Monday, December 16, 2013

The Rite of Spring on a Summer Night at the beach

Ok, yesterday was probably the coolest most unexpected way for me to close my musical year. When I started this blog, one of my first posts was about a traditional concert held at the beach every year with Brazil’s most prestigious orchestra, OSESP. They've made it their tradition to close their year's season here for the past 7 consecutive years, which is pretty cool. And yesterday it was about that time of year for another concert. I don’t know why, but it wasn’t until yesterday’s afternoon that I took a great big look at the sign of the concert and I almost had a freaking heart attack. MARIN ASLOP was conducting, and I could hear the orchestra rehearse and all I could think of was “Holy mother of God, Marin Aslop is in front of my house”. Insane.

I went to the concert with my mum, as usual, and the beach was insanely packed. I read online that there were about 25 thousand people there, and I believe it because it was really very crammed. People had brought their beach chairs, some sat on the sand but most people stood. What I thought was kind of stupid was the fact that right in front of the stage there were about 100 chairs for VIP people and around those chairs the area was absolutely empty and then everybody had to stand behind a “barricade”. I thought that was SO STUPID. Specially because the people on this VIP area were the closest to the stage and had the nerve to chat like they were in a cocktail during the concert. But that’s just how my shitty country works, I’m not even gonna go there. You guys can see it for yourselves... 

The concert itself was so incredible. I was so thrilled to see Marin in the flesh conducting! I have been a big fan of hers ever since that incredible Last Night at The Proms. But seeing her conduct for the very first time at the beach where I grew up and have gone time and time again for my entire life was really the cherry on the top of a fantastic year!

After some introductions Marin hit the stage and they played Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, the first, third and fourth movements. It’s just electrifying to hear that symphony alone but the whole context made it even more special. It was a very informal kind of concert, since the orchestra was facing the setting Sun I could see some musicians sporting sunglasses (how often does that happen?) and they were all in very light colors, like a light kaki and white.

I’m not gonna sit here and pretend that I know much about Beethoven to expand thoroughly in their playing. But I thought it was real good, very consistent and strong. Those guys know what they are doing. It’s interesting to notice how different this orchestra sounds from the Met’s Orchestra for instance (because I saw them play the 7th symphony back in October) and I’m not pointing fingers and saying this one is better than that one. Just saying it’s so ridiculously different. Why of course it is and that was even more explicitly obvious when they played their second piece of the day, The Rite of Spring.

I know it might sound suicidal but I prefer the Rite of Spring to that 5th Symphony, that’s just my personal taste. Maybe it’s because I know more about this particular piece than Beethoven’s symphony. I have never been much of a symphonic person, I like vocal music too much and most importantly, I like stuff that comes with a story. I feel like I can relate much, much better to the piece if there’s a story behind it, that’s why I liked studying Symphonic Poems  so much (no idea if I translated it right) back in college. 

The guy introducing did a horrible job. Not only did he not tell the story of the piece nor the historic context but he did describe the music as “ALIEN”. ALIEN? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? He said that this music will sound “alien” to our ears. Who does he think he’s talking to? A bunch of people from the Middle Ages? This is not Schoenberg or Berg, come on, you offend my people by saying that. You offend me at least.

But just before they started it there was an ANNOYING dog barking like crazy and Marin just turned to the direction the sound was coming from and people started booing and screaming at the dog. It was quite funny, I screamed too, FUN!

I felt so grateful for most of the concert. Like “I’m so blessed to be here, to be able to hear this in the city where I grew up, with one of the most incredible conductors of this century on the year of The Rite of Spring’s 100th birthday”. And the presenter did say something quite right, I don’t think that this particular piece was ever played in such circumstances, to an opened public in a Brazilian beach on a delicious Summer December evening. The evening was actually quite perfect, the sunset was GORGEOUS and it gave the concert a magical background of all sorts of blues and some reds coming from the setting Sun. The pictures I took were the best my phone's camera could do. 

But down to the Rite itself it was real nice. It’s so interesting to see how different kinds of people conduct the same music in completely different ways. I mean, I saw Valery Gergiev conduct this just last October and his take on it could not be more different from Marin’s. I love to watch her conduct, she quite literally jumps on that podium, over and over again. You can just feel all the excitement emanate from her and how her body responded to all those crazy rhythms, she would sometimes move on their impossible pacings. I loved it! I actually made video to show how many people were there just as the first part ended.

And alien or not, I think that the music managed to touch everybody. I would look around and see people’s expressions, it was a mixture of shock, eagerness and happiness. They were glued to that unusual music, especially after hearing the most “best hits” of symphonic music. When the piece ended the audience roared with cheers and applause. Marin did two calls and they left and so did the 50 million people on that beach. There were a lot of people there.

Overall it was incredible and part of me was so eager to just stand at the “artist exit” to talk to Marin but then I thought it was better not to. Anyways, my friends arrived a little bit after the concert ended and we went to drink coconut water and chat about last night’s party. But I was secretly hoping Marin would decide to get some coconut water for herself. But she didn’t haha

Well guys, that’s it for now. I’m now at my parent’s house in Santos until the end of the year waiting eagerly for the colleges to reply my applications! I’m already working on some other pieces to post later this week so stay tuned! Peace everyone!

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